Jason’s Deli North Carolina

Jason’s Deli offers healthy dining choices led by a forward thinking founder. Jason’s believes in providing employees with educational opportunities and the ability to empower themselves. Jason’s was the first major restaurant in the United States to ban artificial trans fats and eliminate high fructose corn syrup.

Ernie and I stopped there for lunch on the recommendation of a friend. We were a bit perplexed upon entering as we couldn’t figure out how to put our order in. There was a self serve kiosk but it was for the salad bar only. I asked the cashier what the process was for ordering. She said to look at the menu and order from her,  then take a seat and our food would be brought to our table.

Jason's deli sandwich

Jason’s deli sandwich

I chose the Famous Favorite Beefeater, Jason’s Deli’s version of the classic beef dip sandwich. I asked what the lighter portion meant and was told that meant less meat. That worked for me as I have never been a fan of over piled meat on sandwiches. I ordered the baked chips over regular chips. Soda water rounded out my meal.

Ernie chose the half pastrami and salad. He was given a bowl and piled up fresh greens, carrots, tomatoes and green olives. He also chose the baked chips.

Jason’s Deli serves a good beef dip sandwich. The bread is crusty but soft and soaks up the au jus perfectly. The roast beef was thinly sliced and cooked well. The only disappointment was the chips. Ernie and I were both expecting homemade baked chips and were very disappointed when the sandwiches were served with Lays baked chips. If you’ve ever eaten Lays baked chips you will understand our dismay. Lays baked potato chips taste like potato cardboard. That kept this blog from being a rave review.

jasons deliJason’s deli offers complimentary garlic bread, crackers,  muffins and ice cream. I found the garlic bread to be very greasy and over cooked. The cornbread muffins were bite sized and nothing to write for the recipe for. The ice cream was nice;  it reminded me of Dairy Queen soft serve ice cream.

I would go back to Jason’s Deli. This time I would order regular chips or the salad with my sandwich. The service was good,  the food solid,  the bathroom was clean and they have a wide variety of different things to choose from. From healthy salads to muffalettas,  pasta to specialty sandwiches,  there’s something for everyone.

Jason’s has six locations in North Carolina. Ernie and I went to the one in Cary, North Carolina.

Now it’s Your Turn! What’s your favorite menu item at Jason’s Deli?

Buffalo Public House

hillcrest 3Hillcrest has a new restaurant named Buffalo Public house. It opened October 23, and it’s right in Hillcrest Central near University and 5th Avenue….which, BTW is one of the most car-accident-prone sections of San Diego. Probably because Mo’s and other happening eateries are around there, parking is atrocious, and the streets are narrow.

So, back to The Buffalo Public House.  My friend and I went there, quite frankly, because it was 4:00 PM on a Tuesday and very few other eateries were open.  This is a brand spanking-new restaurant so we decided to give it a go.

Interior of Buffalo Pub

Interior of Buffalo Pub

It was….okay.  We started with a Pao de Queijo, which translates to cheese puff balls.  There were six to a plate for $4.00 so the price for an appetizer is reasonable.  However, there was just a smear of the aioli sauce (see photo) and they were so bland that you needed to drench them in the aioli sauce.  Our waitress cheerfully provided more. But they were still pretty bland.

See the eensy-teensy schmear of aioli?

See the eensy-teensy schmear of aioli? Buffalo Pub cheese puffs

hillcrest 2

Buffalo Pub salad. I can see the parmesan crisp but no croutons. Who puts tomatoes in a Caesar salad?

My friend had the salmon salad, which she said was good but not memorable.  I had the chicken Caesar salad, which was okay.  I really, really like croutons on Caesar salad; I find they combat the sometimes overwhelming flavor of the dressing. Here is their description from the website:  romaine in house made caesar dressing with rustic malted brown bread croutons and parmesean crisps (veg). Well, there were no rustic malted brown bread croutons and only a circle of what I guess was the parmesan crisp.  Meh.

We stuck to salads because the rest of the menu is pretty spendy for a very late lunch, but average for a nice restaurant in Hillcrest (average minimum is $20).

Perhaps if we had ordered one of their Brazilian gastro-pub entrees this blog would be different, but the salads were not memorable, and for the hassle of parking in Hillcrest there are other restaurants I would patronize.

Now It’s Your Turn:  What do you think is the best Hillcrest restaurant? Which one is the worst?

or

The Buffalo Public House is located at 406 B University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92128.

The Buffalo Public House’s website is www.thebuffalopub.com

 

 

 

El Indio Mexican Restaurant San Diego

My friend took me to El Indio Mexican restaurant this weekend.  El Indio has been in business since 1940 and is a San Diego landmark restaurant.  She said she and her family have been coming to El Indio for over 20 years; it is one of their all-time favorite restaurants. It’s so popular that they have a dedicated parking lot across the street, with a traffic control rent-a-cop monitoring who parks there.  There are cement tables topped by retro red and white metal umbrellas across the street. El Indio is across from Shakespeare Pub, another San Diego institution.

El Indio

El Indio

I’m not a huge Mexican food fan, I acutally am part of the 10% of people who have a genetic predisposition to but hate cilantro; the smell, the taste, everything about it.

I am always game to try something new. It’s part of my mantra of living life to the fullest.  So we walked in and placed our order. She ordered the morditas and I ordered the carnitas plate.

mmm....morditas....

mmm….morditas….

I ordered mine “to go” so I was a little puzzled when it arrived on a regular plastic plate.  “I ordered it to go” I told the young man behind the counter.  He replied “We just snap a lid on it.  Are you ready?” Not yet, as we were eating in.  That’s different!

I tried my friend’s morditas plate.  It’s essentially beef taquitos cut into bite sized pieces, drizzled with nacho sauce and topped by jalapeno peppers.  Nacho sauce always reminds me of Cheese Wiz in its consistency, so I thought it was flavorful but not amazing.

the inside is bright and clean

the inside is bright and clean

Maybe I’m spoiled by going down to Rosarito and eating street tacos, but I felt the carnitas plate was pretty bland.  The meat wasn’t super hot (temperature) and the rice and beans were okay. The corn tortillas (made on site) were average, and I’m a carb nut who loves freshly made tortillas!

Carnitas plate

Carnitas plate

I see YELP and GOOGLE reviews are a mixed bag. It seems like you either absolutely love El Indio or you can pass on it.  I’m glad I went, I’m sure for many people it is delicious, but I will pass next time.

Now It’s Your Turn! What do you think of El Indio? What is your favorite San Diego Mexican Restaurant?

or

El Indio Restaurant

3695 India Street, San Diego, CA 92103

619-299-0333

Eclipse Chocolate South Park

I had the opportunity to eat at Eclipse Chocolate in the South Park area of San Diego.  South Park is a quaint, tree-lined neighborhood with several blocks of unique stores.  Tonight I was at Eclipse Chocolate to have dinner.

Eclipse Chocolate

Eclipse is located on a shady, tree-lined street in South Park

Ernie and I started with the happy hour chardonnay. I would have been disappointed if it was the regular $8 price, but it was good at the $4 happy-hour price.  Happy hour at Eclipse lasts until 7 pm weeknights.

Eclipse’s entire dining area is wall-to-wall glass so it’s hard to have a bad seat.  We were unfashionably early at 5 pm so getting a “window table” was not a problem. Eclipse has a prix fix dinner for $20 where you can choose one entrée and two other menu items, such as a salad or dessert

eclipse chocolate

You can have beer or wine with your chocolate and sit at the bar

I started with the beet & green apple salad which is comprised of baby greens, roasted beet, herbed chevre, candied cocoa nib and vanilla bean vinaigrette.  I’m not a huge beet fan but as part of my new mantra to try something different each time I go out, I figured I’d give it a whirl.

eclipse salad

You cannot call this a ‘diet’ salad….

The salad did not disappoint.  The crisp apple slices tempered the tart, earthy flavor of both the thick chunks of beets and the chevre. The chevre melted in your mouth, it was so soft and smooth. The salad had a satisfying crunch, it was sweet and tangy and the dressing was light and did not overpower the salad.  Overall I give the salad five of five stars.

I chose the chicken with tomato pesto Panini. The bread was a homemade grilled sage focaccia bread and the tomato pesto sauce was served on the side. Paninis can sometimes be a bit on the greasy side, but this one was not.  The bread was crisp but still held its shape.  There were thick slices of chicken and deep red tomato slices accompanied by field greens for the lettuce.  Overall a very nice sandwich.  Not the best but solid.

Ernie had the beer-battered fish, which the menu describes as “pale ale battered white fish + kale chip + lemon wedge + caper vanilla bean tartar sauce”. Ernie said it was flaky and not greasy.  The fish looked more like fish fingers than the sometimes too-thick pieces of fish that restaurants served.

eclipse pumpkin

mmmm pumpkin!

I ordered the  bacon wrapped dates.  The menu described them as “thick cut bacon wrapped medjool dates, roasted + brute cocoa brown sugar glaze + chive”. Now that’s an interesting and tasty combination! The saltiness of the bacon is tempered by  the sweetness of the medjool dates.  What was someone smoking when they thought this one up? Yum.

This is my second visit to Eclipse Chocolate.  The first time was with a girlfriend enjoying one of Eclipe’s divine chocolate confections with coffee on a sunny afternoon. Eclipse knows how to make chocolate.

One thing I saw on the board above the dining counter was a beer float.  Yes, a beer float.  Apparently you can get beer with ice cream.  Remember what I said about what someone might have been smoking? Who in the world would have thought that up? Needless to say, I must come back to try it next time!

Eclipse Chocolate

Eclipse’s drinking chocolate and a brownie….life does not get more decadent than this!

My final thoughts?  I think the food at Eclipse Chocolate is good. Their chocolates are divine. This is a good place to sit and people watch, eat satisfying food in a hip, trendy atmosphere. I would eat here again.

A great time to come in would be during South Park’s Walkabouts. But come early, as the Walkabouts can get packed!

Now it’s Your Turn! What is your favorite place to get chocolate?

or

Eclipse Chocolate is located at 2145 Fern Street San Diego, CA 92104 619.578.2984

Their website is http://eclipsechocolate.com/

Cafe Bassam San Diego

Cafe Bassam

Café Bassam Bankers Hill

I’m sitting in one of my favorite little funky coffee shops in San Diego. Cafe Bassam is on 5th Ave between Quince and Redwood in the Bankers Hill area of San Diego. The walls are covered in thrift store paintings and there’s a pile of books in the back left corner shelf stacked haphazardly, as if someone was looking for something and forgot to put everything back where it was before. There are player piano rolls next to them. Perhaps the player piano to my right is played from time to time? Is it from the owner’s grandparents? It never has been played while I’ve been here but there’s always hope. The background soundtrack is happy friendship tempered by student doodlers and bloggers like me.

Cafe Bassam boasts floor to ceiling window on both sides of this corner store to let the sunlight in.

There’s also a collection of rifles on the walls. Did a family member kill anyone in a war? I’ve just noticed old gumball or penny candy machines under a saddle. Also a mismatched collection of crystal decanters in a china cabinet. What a sensory feast!

Cafe Bassam is full of glass display cases housing an eclectic mixture of empty silver frames, what looks like a mink stole and several containers of what I thought were old ping pong rackets but are actually old fashioned hand mirrors. There’s an English saddle on a rack near the stacked books. It’s a decorating scheme that is both random and utterly charming. Let’s call it Early American Hodgepodge style.Cafe Bassam

Ceiling fans keep the air moving but I think I can hear an air conditioner rattling away as well. There’s a table full of loose teas for you to choose from. I tried that, but since I’m not a tea drinker the bag and Popsicle stick that holds it suspended over the cup flummoxed me. I have shifted back to coffee. Today it’s café mocha. Just a touch of whipped cream but decadent amounts of chocolate. Delish!

Cafe Bassam Tea

They take your order at the counter but serve you directly and you pay the bill when you leave. Very old school.

Outside there are bright orange market umbrellas so you can enjoy coffee with Fido. A young man in mustardy green camo slacks topped by a blue button down shirt and navy sports coat and boater shoes (with socks!) is waiting to pay. A young woman in a pumpkin sweater and black pants, her brown hair streaked with sassy purple stripes is next in line. Another lady is sitting near me. She looks like an average suburbanite until you see that her necklace is made of multi colored zipper pulls and she paired orange flats with a grey skirt. Her iPhone cover has a handle like a purse. Her friend has a bright yellow top edged in lace and an orange skirt with what looks like a brightly colored Italian village on it. I love it! And there’s me in my bright pink capris and flowered top.

I think it’s understandable why I love Café Bassam.

Now it’s Your Turn! What is your favorite funky coffeehouse in San Diego?

or

 

All photos are original and the property of Susanne Romo. If you would like to use them, please do so, but give yourself the gift of good karma and make a small donation to pretty horses rescue. This charity rehabilitates starving, abandoned horses. Every dollar helps us rescue and rehabilitate starving horses.

 

MIddle Eastern Food Hillcrest

When does Middle Eastern food taste bad? When it’s store bought, overly sweet and the hummus is runny. I hate posting bad reviews, but I don’t want people to waste their time.

middle eastern

Shawarma House Hillcrest Middle Eastern Food

Shawarma House is a new restaurant in the heart of Hillcrest. It’s about a block from Trader Joes, across from The Body Alchemist, in a busy strip shopping mall on University. Middle Eastern is my favorite kind of food so I went hoping I would find another place to get a quick Middle Eastern meal.

middle eastern

crumbs on every table in this Middle Eastern restaurant

A young man took my order for chicken kabob, a typical Middle Eastern meal.  I sat down in the brightly lit dining area and waited for my food.  Every table had food crumbs on it. Every one.  It wasn’t busy—I was the only person in the restaurant at 5 pm.

The meal came, served with a big smile by a gentleman I am going to assume is the owner.  He had plastic gloves on which is a plus for health. But that’s where it ended. The food was richly colored and promised a delicious meal, but it did not deliver.

classic middle eastern food

chicken kabob middle eastern food

Middle Eastern food is richly flavored with cumin, saffron, turmeric and tahini.  These spices make the food flavorful but not spicy.  Unfortunately that is not what happened here.  The hummus was runny, when it should have a paste-like consistency, and it was bland.  The pita was store-bought and cold. The chicken kabob had a sweet, tangy sauce reminiscent of chicken teriyaki.  The rice was bland, flavorless, and over-cooked.

The plate was small compared to the amount of food on it, and while trying to dislodge the chicken kabob, onions and bell peppers, the rice sprayed all over the table.  No loss because the rice was atrocious, but I hate making a mess.

middle eastern restaurant

middle eastern restaurant interior

I could have been eating Chinese food in a shopping mall food court. There was not even remotely a Middle Eastern flavor to the chicken kabob.  Maybe I should have ordered the Schwarma or Falafal, but if a classic dish like chicken kabob is tasteless, I don’t want to think about what the other food tastes like.

I think the owner (and his son?) are trying…but they need to get someone who knows how to cook Middle Eastern food in.  At least switch the rice from Rice-a-Roni blah-ness to a simple white Jasmine rice.  I love rice…and left it on my plate. Overall the food was not worth the calories.

Sadly I cannot recommend this restaurant.  Go down the street to Aladdin.  They are a little more expensive (not much!) and the food is fabulous.

Now it’s Your Turn! What is your favorite middle eastern restaurant in San Diego? Why?

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La Miche Kabobgee San Diego

I had some time before my tap dance class and needed to eat, so I headed over to  Lebanese restaurant La Miche Kabobgee. Middle Eastern cuisine is one of my absolute favorites, so I decided to give it a try.La Miche Kabobgee interior

La Miche Kabobgee is in a strip mall at Ruffin Rd and Kearny Mesa.  It is brightly-lit with a sleek modern décor. I was eating relatively early so the restaurant was mostly empty, but next to me was a group of men chatting in Lebanese. I always take it as a good sign when people who can cook the kind of food they are eating are in the restaurant. So MIddle Eastern food with Middle Eastern patrons = good sign.La Miche Kabobgee  hummus

I decided on chicken kabob, which came with hummus served first.  The hummus was not as thick as most I have had but was still good. Not the best hummus (see my blog about Aladdin restaurant’s hummus) but still good. The pita bread is freshly baked and arrives warm at the table.La Miche Kabobgee Labneh

I ordered Lebna Khiar one of my all-time favorite side dishes. This is made from strained, thick plain yogurt, slices of small Persian cucumbers and mint.  It is served cold and makes a nice contrast against the warm, freshly made pita bread.  This one was thicker than most masotchiars I have tasted, with thick slices of cucumber  There is a distinct fresh mint aftertaste and it was delicious.La Miche Kabobgee chicken kabob

I don’t know if it’s because I was taking notes as I eat, but the La Miche Kabobgee chef was unusually attentive, telling me how each recipe is based on something his mother created, and how he may use 7 spices as opposed to another chef using 5 spices. Everyone has the same flavors and spices. None are inherently better than the other,  it’s just different..La Miche Kabobgee  kabob chicken

The chicken kabob arrives, and it is flavorful but a little on the dry side.  There are grilled tomatoes, onios and bell peppers, plus jasmine rice to finish the dish.

Maybe because I am jotting notes and taking iPhone photos, the chef thinks I’m some important food critic (LOL)…but he is hovering. He brings over a complimentary dish of Baba Ghanoush for me to try.  Baba Ghanoush—now this is a starter that can be mangled with too much smoky flavor from over-roasting and burning the eggplant.

Baba Ghanoush means in Arabic “father of seduction” hence is often credited to a slave girl in a sheik’s harem. Hmmm.  Whatever the translation, when it’s made well it’s heavenly.  La Miche Kababgee’s Baba Ghanoush is the bomb-dot-com.  Hands down the absolute best Baba Ghanoush I have ever tasted.  What sends it into the stratosphere is the sprinkling of pomegranate seeds on top. Yum.  The pop of the tangy pomegranate seeds contrasts nicely with the savory eggplant.  This is a keeper.La Miche Kabobgee Baba Ghanoush

I did not have time to stay for coffee or dessert, which disappointed the chef.  He requested I return with friends and more time next time.  I agree.  This is the kind of meal best shared family style, where you can order a myriad of items and sample everything.

Now it’s Your Turn! Have you eaten at La Miche Kabobgee? What’s your favorite thing to order? What’s your favorite San Diego Middle Eastern restaurant?

or

La Miche Kabobgee is located at 9350 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92123

 

Swoon Dessert Bar Hillcrest

There’s a dessert revolution happening in North Park at the corner of University and Iowa.

You can watch Chef Ian create here

You can watch Chef Ian create here

Adjacent to Art Produce GallerySwoon Dessert Bar owner David and his business partner and chef Ian Smith (formerly of Wine Vault and Bistro) hope to change the way San Diego does dessert. Their goal? To provide a place where you can try desserts that are anything but ordinary, without having to commit to an entire meal.  David and Ian want you to enjoy your favorite restaurant and then finish off the evening with one of their unique desserts.

swoon dessert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first taste was their Carrot cake….Unique is hardly enough of a word to describe the ingredients they use. Do you like carrot cake but find that it can be cloyingly sweet and cloaked by the thick cream cheese frosting? How about a carrot cake with less frosting so you can taste the carrot cake? Another surprise —-they season their carrot cake with cardamom to give it a spicy, citrusy flavor. They then finish with a thin cream cheese/panna cotta ganache.  This is not your grandmother’s carrot cake!

This is not your grandmother's carrot cake!

This is not your grandmother’s carrot cake!

My second taster was the 70% dark chocolate gelato with tangerines, granola…and Scorpion Pepper.  Chef Ian advised that Scorpion pepper is six times more potent than Habanero peppers, so I was a bit concerned on this as I’m not a huge hot-spicy kind of gal, but I had to have my chocolate! Even in an unique-ingredient restaurant, I must have my chocolate.  It was definitely spicy hot, but it didn’t burn my tongue and the mixture of dark chocolate and tangerines with the hot kick was quite tasty.swoon chocolate dessert

I finished with the dessert that brought me here in the first place, their brown butter gelato/radish with hazelnut crunch with a ramp gremolata.  Yes, I said radishes.  I had an opportunity to talk to David about this unique dessert, and he said that he and chef Ian want San Diegans to explore alternative ingredients. Just the idea of radishes in dessert is tantalizing. It is definitely not your traditional dessert.  I wouldn’t call it sweet or savory; I’d call it more a salad flavor.

Very lovely presentation

Very lovely presentation

It was interesting and I’m glad I tried it, but it’s not something I would order when I’m in the mood for sweet. I think my palate is not sophisticated enough, or just too soaked in dark chocolate. But I can say I’ve eaten radishes for dessert! Does that count as a bucket list item?

Swoon is also an excellent place to have your networking coffee without the chatter normally running through the background in the (franchise) coffee houses.  Swoon Dessert Bar is open for coffee at 10 am, but dessert is not available until 3 pm. David explained to me that since the ingredients are prepped fresh every day it takes until that time to have everything prepared.  Then each dessert is hand-made at the time of ordering.  These desserts are not languishing inside a pastry case. To have the full experience you need to sit at the bar and watch Ian prepare your dessert.  Not sure if you want to commit to any one dessert? Try their Chef’s Choice 3 course sampler platter for $18.00Dessert menu prix-fixed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The portion sizes are a bit on the tiny side. Think tapas.  For me, since I’m frugal, this is a bit high price-wise for dessert. But I’m not a foodie and my taste needs are pretty basic. In the end…I’m glad I tried them and had the experience.

If you are looking for the traditional dessert in the North Park / Hillcrest area, your better bet would be to go to Eclipse, Extraordinay Desserts or Heavent Sent Desserts.  But if you are a foodie or in the mood for an adventurous, alternative dessert experience, Swoon is the place for you.

Susanna’s Restaurant Rosarito Beach

Susanna's Courtyard

The courtyard outside Susanna’s Restaurant in Rosarito

Ernie and I won a $50 gift certificate to Susanna’s Restaurant in Rosarito at All the Pretty Horses chili cook off event’s silent auction,  so we decided to visit for for my birthday. We were warmly greeted by owner Susanne Stehr and her staff and told to sit wherever we liked. The outside patio looked inviting but late December weather dictated otherwise, so we opted for a table inside.

The courtyard was pretty but too cold in December for al fresco dining

The courtyard was pretty but too cold in December for al fresco dining

Susanna's Restaurant

Holiday décor inside Susanna’s Restaurant in Rosarito

The interior is dimly lit and the walls are covered with photos of Susanne Stehr and her restaurant’s guests. The sense I got was the photos were of friends and happy patrons. It was like looking at a family photo gallery. Susanna’s Restaurant has a great vibe the minute you walk inside. I felt like I was a guest in her home.

my Iphone doesn't do the colors justice

my Iphone doesn’t do the colors justice

The walls are painted a medium dark green and the ceilings are covered in dark wood timbers. A fountain provides a great background ambiance.

What stories can these bottles tell us?
What stories can these bottles tell us?

Long vertical metal ladders contained empty wine bottles (there must be stories behind them!) that created a sense of secluded space between the dining areas, and a Christmas tree twinkled merrily. There was a very cool ceramic Santa Claus on every table and smooth jazz standards mixed with 1950’s Christmas songs created a nice background ambiance. Think Frank Sinatra and Diana Krall sharing the airwaves with Louis Armstrong and Norah Jones.

Our waitress Guillermina was attentive and pleasant. She and I communicated in Spanish-English as she was kind enough to let me practice my limited Spanish. She had a big smile and you could tell she enjoyed her job. I felt like she was my friend and glad to have us there.

We started with Susanna’s garden salad, which was a mixture of field greens,  thick slices of button mushrooms, halved red grape tomatoes and shredded cheese. The dressing was light and allowed the flavors of the salad to come through. We had toasted bread with sides of either a tapenade or a scallion garlic cheese butter spread. I tried both and liked the butter spread more than the tapenade. To be fair I’m not a huge fan of olive tapenades so I’m sure for the right person it is delicious!

My beloved husband and best friend Ernie
My beloved husband and best friend Ernie

Ernie had the lamb with grapes, apple slices and strawberries. He said it was flavorful and cooked exactly right; that it was moist and tender.  I had the balsamic mustard chicken with roasted tomatoes and onions. Yum. It had a flavor reminiscent of teriyaki sauce but without the cloying sweetness,  and the roasted vegetables combined well with the chicken and rice. The chicken was moist and flavorful. We both enjoyed a house chardonnay with our meal.

Yum, yum, yum!
Yum, yum, yum!
Roasted apple slices, pretty unique

Roasted apple slices, pretty unique

Now the one thing you must know is Susanna’s Restaurant prices are in line with a Southern California restaurant. This is not cheap roadside food. This is gourmet,  sophisticated food served in a warm, inviting atmosphere. Ernie and I usually eat at the little roadside stands where you can get a couple tacos and a beer each for about $8 including tip. Eating at Susanna’s is an experience.  Susanna’s is a treat and would be great for special occasions and for people who want to have a great meal in a beautiful setting. This meal, with two salads, three glasses of chardonnay and two entrées cost about $70 including tip. Don’t go expecting roadside taco stand / birreria pricing. This is a classy restaurant with a comfortable ambiance and no snooty wait staff rushing you to finish your mean so they can turn the tables over.  I felt we could stay as long as we wanted as a welcome guest in her home..

The bill was delivered with Hershey's kisses in this box
The bill was delivered with Hershey’s kisses in this box
Susanna's menu

Definitely not a roadside birriria!

IMG_4792IMG_4805

I commented to Guillermina about the fun ceramic Santa Claus and asked her if she could find out where Susanne bought it. Guillermina came back and said it was a gift to me. Is that cool or what? That goes back to what I wrote earlier, that Susanne Stehr really cares about her clients. Now whenever I look at this Santa Claus figurine I am going to think about the great birthday lunch I had at Susanna’s Restaurant in Rosarito.

Here's the fun Santa Susanne Stehr gave me
Here’s the fun Santa Susanne Stehr gave me

Susanna’s has been serving California cuisine for nine years. You can tell she and her staff take great pride in the restaurant and service and I will definitely go back again. It was great to find such a wonderful restaurant in the heart of Rosarito.

The official address of Susanna’s restaurant is

Pueblo Plaza

4356 Benito Juarez Blvd

Playas de Rosarito, Baja California

MX 661-613-1187

Facebook.com/Susanne Stehr

www.susannasinrosarito.com

Susanne@susannasinrosarito.com

Note: All photos were taken by and are the property and copyright of the author, Susanne Romo

Street Side Thai North Park

Thai food is one of my favorite meals.  The flavors are savory but not spicy-hot (normally) and the portions are not gargantuan. I normally like to go to Amarin Thai in Hillcrest, or Bangkok Spices Thai restaurant near my office in Terra Santa.

Street Side Thai North Park

Delicious menu at Street Side Thai North Park

I had the good fortune to go to Street Side Thai restaurant in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego last night. My normal MO in Thai restaurants is the Pad Thai Pork and Chicken Satay, and this Thai restaurant had all the normal Thai dishes on the menu. However, my friend said the Pumpkin-Salmon curry was amazing, and as part of my newer motto of trying different things, I decided to take the plunge.

I had my hesitations about this.  I love salmon, but I have always felt it to have a strong, distinct flavor, and I wasn’t sure how it would meld with pumpkin.  My thoughts were to have the pumpkin curry with chicken, but our waiter Alex chimed in with my friend and told me the only way to have the pumpkin curry at Street Side Thai was with salmon.

Pumpkin Salmon curry

The curry was delicious! I would never have thought to pair pumpkin and salmon

I thought, why not? Worst case scenario, I’ll just eat the rice and ladle the curry sauce over it.  Well, I was impressed.  The portion of salmon was generous — thick, moist chunks that crumbled under your fork.  The curry was sweet, filled with peas, green peppers, carrots and zucchini.  The flavors melded together and the salmon was not as strong as I normally taste.  It was softened by the pumpkin and melded together deliciously.

Our waiter Alex was a hoot.  Funny, playful, but always professional. My friend was cold as our table was too close to the door, and we moved two tables further inside.  Sometimes when you do that at a restaurant it’s like you’ve committed a cardinal sin, but Alex just joked about it.  He had a great attitude, a ready smile, and a good sense of humor. You could tell he really enjoyed his work, and we chatted to him about that. He said he loves working in the restaurant industry as he loves to serve.

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I don’t know if StreetSide Thai keeps the lights on all the time or this was just holiday decor

The restaurant was relatively quiet this Saturday before Christmas.  White icicle lights danced in the front window; I don’t know if they are always there or just for the holidays.  I hope always as they add a fun, festive touch.  The restaurant is orange and muted black, there is a good amount of space between the tables, and a few more secluded booths.  There is a TV at the bar but it was muted and I appreciate that.  I like TVs in sports bars, but not when I’m trying to have a conversation.thai two

Street Side Thai is on University, almost at the corner of Ray Street.  Wangs is nearby, as is Heaven Sent DessertsNorth Park used to be a more seedy part of San Diego, a place you drove through quickly on your way to Hillcrest. But it has become gentrified and you can now stroll safely through the streets at night.  The hipsters and fashionistas have discovered it, and it has been cleaned and gussied up, but it’s still got an edge that I hope does not disappear.

Mange Mange! Enjoy!